Should I Get Another Dog?

You love your dog and all the joy she’s brought to your life; adding another dog will just double the fun, right? Well, maybe or maybe not. Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility and will change your household. Many owners underestimate the time, energy and money required. You may see a cute puppy and want to impulsively bring him home. The key to successfully adopting a second dog, however, is to take a slower approach. Really think about how a new dog will fit into your lifestyle and consider these questions:

1. Why do you want another dog? Before you start dreaming about a little ball of fluff, think about your reasons for adding a new pet. If you want a second dog for your children, be realistic about what their involvement will really be. Adding a second dog to be a companion for your first dog can be a wonderful idea; just realize that you can’t leave them alone to entertain themselves. Never choose a dog because the breed is trendy or you like the way it looks. Don’t be swayed to adopt a dog because it is cheap or free–dogs are never free when you consider the financial and physical care they require. If, on the other hand, you truly love dogs and understand the commitment needed to give a pup a loving home, you’ll make the right decision for your household.

2. Is now the right time to adopt a new dog? Take a minute and consider your day-to-day life. Are you away from home a lot? Taking on a new project at work? Expecting a new baby? The ASPCA recommends waiting six months after big life changes such as divorce, death of a pet, children leaving home or health problems before a getting a new dog.

3. Do you have the financial resources to support a second dog? Your dog will live approximately 12 years, which is a huge financial commitment. Think about vet visits, medicine, food, treats, toys, grooming and boarding if you travel. Does getting a second dog make sense from a financial point of view?

4. Do you have the time and patience to open your home to another dog? In order to have a healthy, happy pet,  you will need to spend time playing, exercising, grooming, training, feeding and socializing your dog. A puppy will require more time for potty training, supervision and correction.

5. Is your dog ready for the addition of a new pup? You must consider the affect a new dog will have on your first one. It’s generally recommended to get a dog of the opposite sex so the two pups will be more compatible. Waiting until your first dog is two years old before adding a new one will make training easier. Consider any training issues your present dog has and work to correct those before bringing in a new pet. You don’t want your new baby picking up any bad habits. Also, consider that some dogs like being only dogs and don’t want to share their humans.

6. Are all family members on board? Dogs love consistency and routine. Your family should feel good about adding a new dog and participate in the training and care of the new pet. They need to be able to take over the responsibility of caring for the dogs if you are sick or away.

The Reality of Two Dogs

You will need to change some behaviors and routines in your house if you bring in a second dog.

• Food. It’s best to separate the dogs when feeding them so they don’t feel like they have to compete with each other or guard their food.  If your current dog free feeds, you will need to stop this practice. Instead, serve between two to four meals a day; frequent feedings will help your dogs get along better.

• Treats. If you give a treat to one dog in sight of the other dog, give the other dog a treat as well. An exception to this rule: if you are rewarding for good behavior and only one of the dogs responds, just give a treat to that dog. Hopefully, the other dog will soon learn that good behavior leads to something yummy.

• Chews and toys. Separate the dogs before giving them desirable chews or toys. If  you put them out to share, you risk the dogs fighting. If your first dog has access to these items, that will have to change.

• Beds. Each dog needs a bed or crate as a safety zone. If your first dog sleeps in your bed, don’t take that privilege away. It’s okay to have one dog sleep in your bed and the other dog sleep in a crate, if he needs that support.

• Attention. Each dog will need frequent individual attention from you at home and away from home. Take one dog on a walk or running errands without the other one. This attention will help with the emotional health of your dogs and build your relationship with each of them.

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